IndustriALL Headlines #129, February 19, 2015

IndustriALL Headlines are produced by IndustriALL’s Press Department.
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Global Unions say to Benetton ‘Pagare’/Pay Up!
Hands off our right to strike!
IndustriALL Global Union signs global framework agreement with Gamesa
IndustriALL calls for justice on the ninth anniversary of the industrial homicide at Pasta de Conchos
Suffering of Soma survivors continues


Global Unions Say to Benetton “Pagare”/Pay Up! 

February 19, 2015   Countdown to second Rana Plaza anniversary: Benetton pay up on Rana Plaza compensation!

Benetton is the only major international brand confirmed to have sourced clothing from Rana Plaza which has not paid a cent into the compensation fund for victims.

$9 million still missing from compensation fund for victims of Rana Plaza tragedy.  Source: IndustriALL

IndustriALL Global Union and its sister global union UNI are leading demands for Benetton to do the right thing and pay into the fund. The fund is US $9 million short of the US $30 million needed to fully compensate the victims, as the countdown to the second anniversary of the tragedy on 24 April begins.

Pressure is mounting on the Italian clothing giant Benetton after one million consumers signed an Avaaz petition calling on the company to pay compensation to victims’ families and the survivors of the deadly Rana Plaza factory collapse.

IndustriALL Global Union’s General Secretary, Jyrki Raina says:

The magnitude of this on-going tragedy cannot
be brushed aside. Children lost their mothers,
families lost their incomes, and many of the
survivors were so seriously injured physically
and mentally that they can no longer work or

feed their families. There are other brands too
who should be paying more compensation
but Benetton must take a lead – the door to
discussions is always open. Benetton the
responsibility lies squarely with you.

“After everything we have been through, we should not be forced to beg or to rely on charity for a living,” says Mahinur Begum, a Rana Plaza survivor. “We are entitled to full and fair compensation.”

UNI Global Union General Secretary, Philip Jennings has this message for Benetton management, “Benetton it’s time for you to change your colours! The clock is ticking and time is fast running out as we approach the second anniversary of the worst garment factory disaster in history. Benetton you produced at Rana Plaza now deliver for the victims you can afford it.”

Rana Plaza Tragedy

More than 1,100 people died in the Rana Plaza collapse, which happened on the morning of 24 April 2013 in the Savar suburb of the Bangladesh capital Dhaka. Despite clear warnings that the building was about to collapse, including a newspaper report, workers were told to be in work or lose their jobs. That threat cost many more lives.

Over the past year, the Rana Plaza Donors’ Trust Fund, set up under the stewardship of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has raised around US $21 million in donations from global brands, the Bangladeshi Prime Minister’s Fund, trade unions and civil society. However, $9 million is still needed in order to reach the estimated funding gap.

To date 5,000 people – dependents of the deceased as well as injured workers – have received 40% of the total compensation payment due to them, according to the Rana Plaza Coordination Committee, which is chaired by the ILO.

The Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, which was founded by IndustriALL Global Union and UNI in the aftermath of the Rana Plaza collapse has now been signed by around 200 global brands. The Accord, which carries out independent factory inspection programmes on two thousands garment factories in Bangladesh, is helping to improve safety and sustainability across the country’s garment sector.

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Hands Off Our Right to Strike! 

February 19, 2015  Workers around the globe staged a series of protests against employers’ attempts to challenge and potentially remove workers’ fundamental right to strike. This right is an integral part of the ILO Freedom of Association Convention 87.

Source:  IndustriALL

On 18 February, a global day of action in defence of the right to strike was called by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and supported by IndustriALL Global Union. Workers of the world brought to their governments an uncompromising message to stop attacking workers’ right to strike.

The global call is a response to the attacks of Employers’ Group within the International Labour Organization (ILO) over ILO Convention 87 (C87) or the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize. C87 ensures the fundamental right of all workers to strike.

In Geneva, IndustriALL Global Union together with sister global unions BWI, IUF, PSI and UNI, representing collectively over 100 million workers, delivered letters to the missions and representations of the countries where workers’ right to strike is challenged or not supported. One of them is Turkey, where recently IndustriALL affiliate Birlesik Metal Is has faced a ban on its metal industry strike under the argument that it is “prejudicial to national security”.

The joint union delegation also visited Angolan and Indian missions and delivered letters demanding that governments of these countries “immediately support the global right to strike and end their opposition in the ILO Governing Body to referral of the dispute over this matter to the International Court of Justice.»

When addressing the gathering in front of the Mission of Angola, Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary said, «We will never give up, we will continue to struggle, since without our right to strike we can’t make sure our goal is achieved for everyone to live in equality. Hands off our right to strike!»

A similar message was also addressed in front of the Indian permanent mission.

The global call for action has been widely supported by numerous actions and demonstrations organized by IndustriALL affiliates in many countries, among others Chile, France, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, Philippines, Turkey, Switzerland and United States.

Photos from the actions are available on IndustriALL’s flickr account. At and

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IndustriALL Global Union Signs Global Framework Agreement With Gamesa 

February 18, 2015  Gamesa, the Spanish wind turbine manufacturer, has signed a Global Framework Agreement covering social, labour and environmental issues with IndustriALL Global Union and its Spanish affiliates, CCOO Industry, MCA-UGT and FITAG-UGT.

IndustriALL Global Union signs global framework agreement with gamesa.  Source: IndustriALL
Jyrki Raina, IndustriALL and José Antonio Cortajarena, Gamesa.  Source: IndustriALL

This agreement, the world’s first involving a company in the renewable energy sector, was signed on 18 February in Madrid by IndustriALL general secretary, Jyrki Raina, Gamesa Chief Executive Officer, José Antonio Cortajarena, Gamesa Human Resources Director, Javier Treviño, and Carlos Romero, Antonio Deusa and Agustín Martín, general secretaries of the MCA-UGT, FITAG-UGT and CCOO Industry unions respectively.

The agreement, which will apply to all companies in the Gamesa group and to all its employees worldwide, includes new clauses that strengthen the rights of workers and trade unions, introduce the principle of neutrality, establish the pre-eminence of international agreements over potentially lax national standards, ensure the right of access to workplaces by workers’ representatives and strengthen trade union networks.

One of the most innovative points of the agreement is that Gamesa management will monitor and supervise the agreement jointly with IndustriALL and the national trade unions (FITAG-UGT, MCA-UGT and CCOO Industry). A new coordination and monitoring body will be created and will meet regularly. It will produce a report every two years on progress in implementing the agreement with a view to updating the agreement.

Jyrki Raina, IndustriALL’s general secretary, said:

IndustriALL is convinced that global framework agreements are important instruments for trade union organization and for improving labour relations in multinational companies and their subsidiaries.

The global agreement signed commits the company to the development and protection of its workers worldwide and makes health and safety at work, working conditions and equal opportunities key issues for company action, said Carlos Romero.

Antonio Deusa said: “The importance of achieving this agreement is that it highlights the commitment of the signatory organizations to Gamesa employees, wherever their workplaces are located.”

Agustín Martín said that global agreements like this one “give substance to trade union attempts to persuade companies to adopt genuine corporate social responsibility practices throughout their production networks. This guarantees an improvement in labour standards and working conditions at the global level, in accordance with the particular circumstances in each country and region of the world”.

The Global Framework Agreement for the Gamesa Group includes the following provisions:

  • A commitment to the development and protection of employees worldwide;
  • It strengthens social, labour and environmental rights already contained in the Group’s Code of Conduct; makes health and safety at work, working conditions and equal opportunities key issues for company action; guarantees implementation and promotes the conditions for a social dialogue at the international level;
  • It will apply to all companies in the Gamesa Group and to all its employees. Gamesa, which is based in Spain, currently has operations in Germany, Australia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, China, Costa Rica, USA, Egypt, Finland, France, Greece, Honduras, Hungry, India, Ireland, Italy, Morocco, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, United Kingdom, Romania, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Turkey and Uruguay, as well as in our own country;
  • A commitment to respect basic social rights (especially labour rights and trade union representation), human rights and civil liberties, equal opportunities, merit and non-discrimination on grounds of race, sex, ideology, nationality, disability, beliefs or any other personal, physical or social condition. A commitment to observe ILO Conventions on age of access to work, the worst forms of child labour, forced labour, non-discrimination in labour relations, equal pay for work of equal value, freedom of association and the protection of trade union rights, the right to organize, to collective bargaining and to employee representation in order to prevent any kind of discrimination against workers involved in trade union activities;
  • Principle of neutrality: in accordance with ILO Conventions 87 and 98, the agreement clearly establishes a commitment to observe the principle of neutrality, which requires companies to respect workers’ decisions regarding the election of their representatives and the creation and operation of unions of their choice;
  • Rejects corruption and bribery;
  • A commitment to inform suppliers, contractors and collaborators of the contents of its Code of Conduct and this Global Framework Agreement;
  • Company management, IndustriALL Global and the national trade unions will jointly supervise this GFA using mechanisms described in the text of the agreement.

About Global Framework Agreements

Global Framework Agreements (GFAs) protect the interests of workers employed in all operations of the multinational companies who sign them.

GFAs are negotiated at the global level between trade unions and a multinational company. They establish the best possible standards on trade union rights; on health, safety and environmental practices; and on the labour relations principles adhered to by the company in its global operations, regardless of the standards existing in a particular country.

GFAs must:

  • Include all the operations of a company throughout the world, without exception;
  • Make a firm and unequivocal commitment by the multinational company in question that suppliers and contractors will adopt these same standards for their workers;
  • Guarantee the company’s commitment to maintain a positive attitude towards trade unions, abstain from all anti-trade union activity and remain strictly neutral with regard to their employees’ preferences regarding joining, remaining in, changing to or leaving any particular trade union;
  • Allow trade union representatives reasonable access to workplaces;
  • Contain effective implementation and compliance mechanisms and a binding dispute resolution procedure.

GFAs should make explicit reference to and recognize the rights set out in ILO Conventions, including the following:

  • Freedom of association and collective bargaining (Conventions 87 and 98);
  • Discrimination (Conventions 100 and 111);
  • Forced labour (Conventions 29 and 105);
  • Child labour (Conventions 138 and 182).

In addition, GFAs must be approved by the trade union affiliates of IndustriALL that represent the majority of trade union members among the employees of the corresponding multinational company.

Once a GFA has been signed, it must be translated into the agreed languages and made available to all company employees, whether employed directly or indirectly.

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IndustriALL Calls for Justice on the Ninth Anniversary of the Industrial Homicide at Pasta de Conchos 

February 19, 2015  Nine years have gone by since tragedy struck at Pasta de Conchos. Sixty-five miners lost their lives after being trapped by an explosion at this Grupo Mexico mine. Sixty-three bodies were never recovered and are still in the mine.     

A miner’s routine consists of working hundreds of metres below the ground and he only sees daylight at the end of his shift. It is one of the most dangerous of jobs and miners are at a much greater risk of suffering workplace accidents than workers in other professions.

On19 February 2006, industrial homicide was committed at Grupo Mexico’s Pasta de Conchos coal mine 8, at San Juan de Sabinas. An explosion inside the mine trapped 65 miners. Two bodies were recovered in 2006 and 2007 but no further attempts have been made to recover the other bodies.

The fight to recover the bodies

The families of the dead miners have been fighting for nine years to have the bodies of the miners recovered and for the right to honour their deceased relatives. The Catholic church in the coalfield has spoken out in support of the families and called for justice and for the authorities to respond positively to the requests made by the families. The church held a special mass at the mine to pray for eternal rest for the 63 dead miners.

19 February 2015 will be the ninth anniversary of the tragedy. IndustriALL Global Union supports demands for the state and federal governments to inspect the mines and protect the lives of miners; for the bodies to be recovered and given a decent burial; for a thorough investigation into what happened and punishment for those responsible.

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Suffering of Soma Survivors Continues 

February 19, 2015  2,800 Turkish miners who lost their jobs at Soma have been denied severance pay by the mine’s operator. It follows the deaths of 301 miners at the mine last year.

Miners from Soma protest outside the Turkish parliament in Ankara on 10 February.  Source: Maden-IS
Soma Holding is refusing to pay severance pay to miners it sacked by text message on 1 December.  Source: Maden Is

Miners learnt they were being laid off by the Soma Holding Company via text message on 1 December. The company has since refused to compensate them, saying that its assets have been frozen.

Soma miners from IndustriALL’s Turkish affiliate Maden-Is marched in front of parliament and the Ministry of Labour in Ankara on 10 February to demand compensation, which according to Maden-Is amounts to roughly US$17 million.

However, mining regulations should also guarantee that the state-owned Turkish Coal Enterprises (TKi) step in and give the miners what they are due.

While Soma Holding and TKi argue over who should pay, the miners and their families are suffering over winter without any income.

“Don’t continue to victimize the surviving Soma miners and pay their severance payments,” demanded Nurettin Akcul, General President of the Turkish mineworkers’ union, Maden-Is, in his call to the Government. “All the dismissed miners must have jobs.”

The industrial homicide at Soma on 13 May 2014 was the country’s worst mining disaster. An explosion and carbon monoxide poisoning in the mine, in Turkey’s western Manisa province, led to the deaths of 301 miners, with many more injured.

Many of the families of these dead miners have yet to receive compensation.

An independent report into the disaster listed point after point of gross negligence surmising that accident was entirely preventable. Miners died needlessly from carbon monoxide poisoning due to inadequate ventilation systems and broken gas masks. Exits were blocked, warning systems were faulty and safety reports were consistently fabricated.

IndustriALL’s assistant general secretary, Kemal Ôzkan, said:

Withholding severance pay to the sacked miners at Soma simply adds insult to injury. The government must step in, take responsibility and see that the miners are properly compensated. Many of them have already lost family and friends in the industrial homicide at Soma. Now they have lost their jobs. To let these miners go a whole winter without pay is further proof of contempt for their welfare.

The Turkish public prosecutor’s office is currently investigating the disaster. Soma Holding, meanwhile, denies blame saying that there is no proof that safety procedures were violated.

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